Projects

It might be a “getting old[-er]” thing, but I’ve recently started feeling like documenting the complete set of software projects I’ve worked on that I remember. Not as a CV (an advertisement of paid work), but a comprehensive list of everything.

I’ll start with the old stuff and continuously make updates a little bit per day. After a few weeks I should be done.

Table of Contents

2015

stack

At FP Complete, clients wanted a tool that covered all their use-cases, which typically involved multi-package projects and wanting to avoid the cabal solver. Motivated by previous success with internal tools,1 we decided to make a proper tool and decided the name would be ‘stack’ (from stackage). I made the first commit for Stack. I worked on it for a year or two, alongside many people at FP Complete like Michael Sloan, Manny Borsboom, Dan Burton and Michael Snoyman, and I have used it ever since. Most everyone else did the bulk of the work, I only kick started the basics (reading cabal files, GHCi support, things like that).

The first version used Shake, but we discovered it was very hard to reason about what it was doing. Michael rewrote the scheduler to not need Shake, and did further work to basically make Stack a bit like Nix and lock down all packages, package sets into with SHA256 hashes. I wrote casa.stackage.org to store content-addressed blobs of package files for Stack to later retrieve.

It went on to become the build tool of choice for Haskell projects for some years. It’s only in recent years that cabal-install has caught up with feature parity and the sentiment seems to be shifting back to cabal-install. I still use stack because the ergonomics are more designed for my workflow.

path

As part of my work on stack, we deal with filepaths a lot, so I wrote the path package, with a blog post motivating it. I was pretty happy with this package, it solved a real need that initially a lot of people were sceptical of, but colleagues told me it saved their asses a few times.

That package is still maintained to my knowledge.

2014

ace

In the afterglow of growing bored of Lojban, but still enamoured by formal human languages, I got into Attempto (Latin for ‘I dare’) Controlled English. I ended up writing a parser package for it in Haskell here. It’s surprisingly comprehensive, I wrote a blog post on it. It even permits passing a record of parsers, permitting the user to define their own vocabulary and syntax for terms.

When I wrote it, use of such things was questionable. Combine it with a logic database and poof, magic understanding! In reality, not quite. Arguably, the use for such a thing in today’s brave new world of LLMs is even more questionable.

But I suppose there still lies a small place in my heart for a formal language that is also readable by anyone who speaks English.

hl

The Haskell web site has already been a bit crap. Today, it’s okay. It’s been much worse. During that period of much-worseness, I wrote hl, an alternative Haskell homepage, complete with reasoning, which I launched at haskell-lang.org as an alternative competing page, due to making no progress at all for years in trying to get access to haskell.org itself. Eventually, it did become the Haskell homepage due to some diplomatic heroics. In that sense, I suppose the project was a success. There was, as expected, lots of politics surrounding it, but that’s always the case with home pages of community projects.

formatting

I thought that the HoleyMonoid package was very neat, and decided it would make a perfect type-safe printf-like package. I called it formatting, after Common Lisp’s FORMAT.

Actually, it turned out that despite the neat trick, I really doing like the position-dependent style of printf/FORMAT at all. I prefer just writing x <> " and " <> y instead, or concat [x, "and", y]. So the whole thing became an experiment in novelty, but ultimately I lost interest and passed the maintainership onto someone else.

hindent

hindent was my bold attempt to make a complete pretty printer for Haskell, so that manual code formatting would be a thing of the past. This was quite a substantial project and took a lot of work. The blog post explains the motivations, but I just wanted to type less and get autoformatting. I later went one step further and limited it to a single style (which is what gofmt famously did), which I documented here. I even chose a style that I didn’t like, but that was popular. The decision to enforce just one style made a lot of people mad.

Years later, there was a remake project called Ormolu2, which also enforced one style. There was subsequently a fork called Fourmolu, which permitted more style configuration.3

foreign-store

The foreign-store package is a simple bit of C code wrapped in a Haskell package that lets you keep a reference to a Haskell object between GHCi reloads, which I wrote for the purpose of hot reloading. It’s actually still used to this day and maintained by someone else. There are 12 direct dependencies of it on Hackage, mostly various different ways of doing code reloading.4 They’re all fancy wrappers around this.

10 years after it had been published and not been touched for just as long, someone found and fixed a segfaulting bug in the C code. Can you believe it?

shell-conduit

I’ve been wanted to write shell scripts since 2014. This attempt, shell-conduit, was to get all available names in the PATH, available as real Haskell identifiers to run. And then “scripts” would be regular Haskell programs.

I’ve since changed my mind that this is a good idea, and see above for the Hell project.

lucid

Lucid is still actively developed, and was motivated by have a uniformity of combinators, like HTML handling in Common Lisp.

It’s also a proper monad transformer, which has a small theoretical satisfaction to it.

It’s one of my projects that is using the Immutable Publishing Policy.

2013

pure-io

A small project called pure-io that provided a little IO monad that would run as a pure function. I used this for tryhaskell.org.

god-mode

After suffering from RSI for a while, I had decided with Emacs I’d look at my typing with statistics. After a week or so of full day typing every day, I found that I made a significant proportion of key chords in succession. I evaluated vim modes and realised that they depart from Emacs quite a bit or lacked a story for many modes. In the end I had the thought to make the Ctrl implicitly on all the time, and this turned out to be undeniably productive and practical in the form of god-mode.

I’m still using it to this day, although it has been folded into my Emacs config.

structured-haskell-mode

In similar themes to god-mode, I made a structured editor for Emacs’s haskell-mode that would essentially let one edit Haskell code like paredit. That used a Haskell parser via haskell-src-exts, and produced a set of s-expressions for Emacs to convert to a set of markers. The minor mode was called structured-haskell-mode.

haskellnews

haskellnews was a simple web app to list all the sources of blogs, posts, tweets, etc. about Haskell. I sort of lost interest in social Mead and therefore stopped running it. But for a while I enjoyed using it.

ircbrowse

I wrote ircbrowse at ircbrowse.net to be a replacement to the much older ircbrowse.com.

ircbrowse.com was a great web site for browsing chat logs of various IRC channels, it was also infamously slow as hell. So a fundamental motivator was to make something that would be instant, and I succeeded on that, much to my personal pride.

It could handle about 30 million lines of chat across a few channels for about 10 years of logs. There were something in the order of 30k lines of chat from the #haskell channel per month.

I stopped running it after I lost interest in IRC, but it was a very satisfying project and I learned a lot about PostgreSQL’s performance characteristics in the process.

2012

fay

I wrote a language called Fay, which was a Haskell without type-classes that compiled to JavaScript, and used GHC’s type system for the type-checking.

It ended up being quite popular, it garnered its own organisation, and I had a co-maintainer called Adam Bergmark, who was very nice and smart.5

I was invited to and went to a conference in Lisbon to give a talk on it.

FP Complete used it for their IDE which was a web based Haskell IDE, which is pretty much how I got the job at FP Complete in 2013. A couple years or so later, after the IDE project petered out, we stopped using it. There were better options by then (PureScript, etc.).6

2011

hulk

I wrote an IRC server for use at work for us to chat on. We used it for some years after we all left, until we eventually migrated to an app called Wire (also written in Haskell).

This was my first proper experience using threading in Haskell and working on a sockets server in Haskell. I would note that architecting an IRC server in a nice way remains an unsolved problem in my head. In any language.

ji

I wrote a library called Ji, which is a simple concept to write a web app in Haskell that sends commands to a browser of what DOM changes to make and what events to listen to.

It was taken over by Heinrich Apfelmus and renamed to threepenny-gui, after which he added many FRP-based things and has likely rewritten all of it by this point.

2010

tryhaskell

tryhaskell.org

This was a big splash when I made it, it hit the top of some big subreddits and Hacker News. It was inspired by tryruby.org, which was made by _whytheluckystiff, the mysterious Rubyist who disappeared from the community. It runs you through an interactive tutorial about Haskell basics and checks your answers.

I’ve been meaning to rewrite this one day, but so far haven’t been sufficiently inspired to do so.

It’s been running for 14 years, which is quite a long time.

jquery-console

Written for Try Haskell, this is was dumb terminal/console-like experience in the browser using JQuery. It still works correctly to this day, on tablets, phones and computers. I stopped maintaining it as a separate package years and years ago, but tryhaskell still works fine.

lisk

I had enough hubris to think I would be able to write a Lisp syntax on top of Haskell, and called it Lisk.

I was happy with Haskell, but bummed out by its syntax compared to the beauty of Lisp. That hasn’t changed today in 2024.

2008

kibro

In 2008 I was working for a small sum on a hair salon’s new web site, in Haskell. And I made a very trivial web library called “Kibro” (from the Lojban “cyberspace”), which sat upon CGI and could be ran from PHP, which is how I was running it.

lojbot

Around this time I was an enthusiastic Lojban hobbyist, so I wrote an IRC bot with various capabilities.

2006

slsk/soulski

A project for the Soulseek music sharing network. Web site, which may not remain long-term: slsk.sourceforge.net. Amusingly, it still looks great. Here’s a screenshot. Another. I started writing a C library for Soulseek: soulseek-library-0.01.zip I started writing a GUI library in C for it: exgui-library-0.1.zip I started writing a CSS parser in C for it: css-library-prototype-0.01.zip

I originally had big ambitions for this, but later lost interest. It looks like I planned to rewrite it in Common Lisp, but got bored of the project before I did.

wdn

I had a project called ‘windows desktop notes’ (WDN), that I originally wrote in C. It would overlay some plain text notes on your desktop and you could click it and get an edit box and then hit Enter to save again.

Then I ported it, or tried to, to Lisp.


  1. Michael had previously built a tool called fpbuild which basically was kind of like a big lock file and was unreasonably effective at building very large Yesod-based projects.↩︎

  2. It just had a small technological advantage of being based on GHC’s parser, rather than haskell-src-exts, which is always playing catch-up.↩︎

  3. Which I consider a bit of a setback towards the dream of making style choices a thing of the past. But I think Ormolu will win eventually. Maintaining forks is hard work.↩︎

  4. componentm-devel, espial, essence-of-live-coding, essence-of-live-coding-gloss, essence-of-live-coding-pulse, ghci-websockets, halive, jsaddle-warp, monomer, nvim-hs, rapid↩︎

  5. In retrospect I mishandled a situation where Fay was being used in production and we were breaking its APIs too often, and I blocked Adam’s master push access to the repo to give me some breathing room to slow things down, but this was obviously the wrong move, and not how you should treat early collaborators. That was my first experience managing a project, so I cut my younger self some slack. However, he was very gracious about it in the moment.↩︎

  6. See a complete history here.↩︎